Growing up can be hard under the best of circumstances. But try sharing with a friend your most intimate problem, one you secretly confront every day: that you live with a disease ravaging your waste disposal system.

It’s a , according to interviews with young people affected by Crohn’s disease or , collectively known as .

IBD patients often live with cramps, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, urgency, , joint pain, , bloating, weight loss, exhaustion, low red and other symptoms not easily discussed in polite society. It is much more serious than , with which it is often confused. IBS, while troublesome, does not cause inflammation and is not an .

Of the 1.4 million people in the United States who suffer from IBD, about a third are under age 30, and their number is rising. The autoimmune disorder is believed to be caused by some combination of genetics, environmental risks and an abnormality of the immune system, and it affects as many as 396 per 100,000 population, mostly Caucasians, according to the , though ethnic differences are closing.

The rate among Ashkenazi Jews is 2 to 4 times greater. IBD is widely thought of as a , even though racial and ethnic differences have been narrowing, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Chava Z. Cohen, 30, of Enfield, Conn., who was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at 18, speaks cautiously about Crohn’s and only on an as-needed basis, when she’s fairly certain the other person will empathize rather than judge.

IBD Patients Reveal Their Lonely Childhood Stories

IBD Patients

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About Robert Hill

I founded IDEAS Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society, from my home base in Vancouver, British Columbia. Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society IDEAS is established to raise public awareness of intestinal diseases in order to help remove the stigmas associated with these illnesses. The programs of IDEAS help children, youth and young adults learn to live full lives, find acceptance and gain confidence.

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